MANILA (Mabuhay) — A year after charges have been filed before the Sandiganbayan, the first pork barrel scam-related plunder case in now set for trial proper.
Alleged pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles, lawyer Jessica Lucila “Gigi” Reyes, and two others will be tried before the Sandiganbayan Third Division thrice a week starting January 13, 2016.
The proceedings against Senator Juan Ponce Enrile, with respect to the case, is temporarily suspended pending the Supreme Court’s final ruling on his petition for Bill of Particulars.
Enrile and Reyes are accused of pocketing P172 million worth of kickbacks after allocating the senator’s Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) to Napoles-linked fake non-government organizations from 2004 to 2010.
Among the documents to be presented are liquidation documents of PDAF-related special allotment release orders and Commission on Audit’s Special Audit Report, confirmations letters and replies.
Aside from the whistleblowers, Senator Alan Peter Cayetano, Commissioner Kim Henares and representatives from COA, Department of Justice, Department of Agriculture and Anti-Money Laundering Council will be invited to testify for the prosecution panel.
The trial will take place every Wednesday, Thursday and Friday starting January 13, 2016 at the Sandiganbayan Third Division.
Third Division senior member Associate Justice Samuel Martires said the court is targeting to rule on the plunder case before the end of the current administration.
“Let’s finish this case before we have a new president,” said Martires during the pre-trial of Napoles’ and Reyes’ plunder case on Tuesday.
“Immediately, cross-examination must be conducted. We do not want any cancellation, no postponement due to absence of a witness.”
Reyes’ lawyers initially asked to postpone the pre-trial, arguing that the case against her was vague and that Enrile’s petition for Bill of Particulars affects her. The anti-graft court denied with finality Reyes’ motion to defer the pre-trial.
“Kung si Enrile binigyan ng pagkakataon pagkatapos ng Bill of Particulars, ang sinasabi namin, dapat kami din dahil sa iisa lang ang information eh. And the charge is one of conspiracy where the act of one is act of all. Therefore, ang act na pinapa-clarify ng Supreme Court through a Bills of Particulars, should also apply to us because the acts of Enrile are considered our acts,” explained Reyes’ legal counsel Atty. Anacleto Diaz.
Presiding Justice Amparo Cabotaje-Tan, however, decided to continue with the pre-trial, as scheduled.
The pre-trial of another primary respondent in the pork barrel scam case, Senator Bong Revilla, was cancelled this October and rescheduled to February due to the defense panel’s unfinished marking of pieces of evidence. (MNS)